Horizontal Pull Exercises & Progressions

The horizontal pull movement is one of the most important movements to incorporate into ones upper body program.  This combined with vertical pulling movements helps to balance out the vertical and horizontal pushing that is often commonly performed in most peoples training programs. Often I will keep programming quite simple and focus on a 2:1 ratio of posterior (pull) to anterior/vertical (chest/shoulder) push movements.

Some of my favourite horizontal pulling movement include:

Dumbbell Row (hand supported on bench) – This allows the client to focus purely on one side of the body and requires them to maintain a stable torso/trunk.  This can be performed across a variety of ways i.e. scapular locked throughout the whole movement OR allowing the scapular to move into protraction and retraction.   Often I will incorporate both into ones program at different phases, often starting with a retracted scapular position for many beginners to teach body awareness and build strength/stability around this area to help with injury prevention.  Changing the elbow pulling angle and grip are other variations that we can play with.

Bent Over Barbell Row – This requires the individual to hip hinge and maintain a stable torso/trunk position and pull the bar to chest.  This requires an increased level of coordination, skill and strength through the torso and often for beginners I will stay away from this exercise until they have trained for some time as adding too heavy a load often results in them compromising their posture and using momentum.

Inverted Horiztonal Row – Either from barbell (feet on floor or elevated) or using the TRX is a great exercise as the person is required to lift their body against gravity.  I also like this as it requires them to maintain tension in their body (maintain a plank position).  Again this can be progressed/regressed by changing the angle of the body to the floor, changing ground support and stability (single or bilateral foot position) as well as elbow positioning and grip position.

Chest supported Row – should your gym have one, this is a great exercise.  You have the individual lying on the bench and pulling the T bar, barbell, db or kettlebell towards them.  This offers maximum stability in the body and allows the individual to handle a heavier load.

Seated Row/Kneeling Row/Standing Row – bilateral or single arm grip – there are many variations on this and how one can change this.  You can have the individual maintain a stable and still trunk position when pulling or allow them to move the body i.e. rotational row for more of a full movement pulling movement.  Weight loads will change according to the complexity of the movement, as will speed of movement and focus point.

Renegade Row – This requires the individual to be in a push up position whilst gripping either the db or kettlebells.  They can either maintain a stable trunk position and row one arm and then the other, or you can allow for trunk movement.  It all depends on the goal of the exercise.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  Heath has a particular interest in exercise rehabilitation and strength and conditioning.  He has completed ASCA Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Course, Powerlifting Association Level 1 Coaching Course, FMS and many more.  For all of your injury treatment and management needs, touch base with us at www.principlefourosteopathy.com.  Principle Four Osteopathy are one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.